Marshalltown High School senior Abby Snyder has been awarded the National Forensic League's Academic All-American Award.
Last year, Snyder qualified for the national tournament for the third year in a row. While this is an amazing accomplishment in itself, she also had earned enough points to be nominated for the Academic All-American Award. Students who earn 750 NFL points, carry at least a 3.7 GPA, and score above a 27 on the ACT can be nominated for this award. Nominees should also possess outstanding character and leadership. Once Abby had reached the 750, there was no question in Dr. Hawk's mind about nominating her for the award.
"Abby is an outstanding person," said said Janelle Hawk, the director of Forensics at MHS. "She pushes herself to be successful in her classes, sports, band, and her many academic extra-curricular activities, such as forensics and Envirothon. She sets high expectations for herself, and helps her teammates to work toward those high expectations as well. It was a true honor to nominate Abby for this award because she is the epitome of an Academic All American."
Marshalltown has been a member of the National Forensic League for more than 30 years, and the program has gone through many changes in those years.
"Usually, when people hear the word 'forensics,' they think of forensic science," Hawk said. "Our program is about learning to be better, more confident speakers who can succeed in any career."
Students participate in a variety of speaking, acting, and debating events at tournaments around the state throughout the year. Each time a student competes he or she earns points toward membership or degrees.
A student must earn 25 points to become a member, then will continue to earn more points to move up to higher degrees of accomplishment. The more tournaments a student attends, and the better he or she does at the tournament, the faster his or her points will grow.
MHS is also taking steps to help other schools grow their forensic programs. The school hosted a novice tournament on Sept. 28, for individuals, schools and community members to learn more about the speech and debate program, allowing schools that already have programs to bring new recruits to practice and learn more about events in a competitive setting. Dr. Hawk also reached out to schools without programs to encourage them to come and learn more about it.
"It's really quite exciting to share my enthusiasm for forensics with people who are curious about the program," she said.
Hawk is confident the record of success will continue this year.
"This is going to be a great year," she said. "I fully expect we will make it to nationals for the sixth year in a row."